On our recent trip to northwestern Wyoming, we became part of the approximately 4 million people who will visit Yellowstone in 2017. As I talked to other travelers in the visitor center near Old Faithful, I realized that many were unaware of the other national park just south of Yellowstone. They had no idea what they were missing. So, I wanted to make sure you, dear reader, don't miss out on this hidden jewel.
Just 10 miles south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is easily one of the most beautiful parks in America. Encompassing three major peaks, as well as much of the valley north of Jackson, the terrain provides a striking backdrop for wildlife viewing. And its glacier-hewn mountains are visually stunning.
Driving the scenic loop through the park without stopping would take less than an hour. However, you'll want to plan on stopping at the pull-offs to get a better look at the glacier, lakes and the Snake River. There's much less traffic here than at Yellowstone, so take your time and enjoy nature.
Most of the restaurants and lodges in this area seem to start serving breakfast at 7 am. That's less than ideal if you want to see wildlife, so I recommend starting your day with a light snack so you can hit the road early. Why?
Bison, also popularly known as buffaloes, graze in the open fields in the morning. You won't want to miss them. Unlike at Yellowstone, we were able to watch this herd in relative solitude. It was a peaceful experience. Something not to be missed.
Just be sure to use the zoom on your camera. Don't get too close. Bison are wild; they are fast; and they can injure you if they feel threatened.
Tucked back closer to the mountains is beautiful Jenny Lake. We took a one-way unpaved road to get back to see it. While back there, we had black bear cubs amble out in front of our car to cross the road. It really is a magical!
For hikers, Jenny Lake boating offers shuttles across the lake to the Cascade Canyon trailhead. From there you can hike up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. For those who don't hike, they also offer scenic boat tours.
If you're a photographer, dawn and sunset are going to be some of your best options for capturing the best shots. The light against the mountains and over the lakes provides the perfect opportunity. We stopped at the Jackson Lake marina at dusk, and the post-rainstorm sky was a hazy pink.
If you're planning a trip to Wyoming, don't miss Grand Teton National Park. Find out more information at https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm.